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Variations of the Gay Pride/Rainbow Flag

Sexual Orientation Flags

Last modified: 2015-06-27 by randy young
Keywords: rainbow flag | stripes: 6 | smiley | labrys | earth | map: earth | hat: cowboy | aids | pirate | crossed bones | heart (black) | aids | matlovich (leonard) |
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Miscellaneous Reports about the Rainbow Flag

The rainbow flag forms the basis for many different, in part localized, variants.
Marcus Schmöger, 26 Aug 2001

This seems to be a fairly consistent pattern — taking an existing flag and “merging” it with the Rainbow Flag or various GLBT [gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered] symbols to represent GLBT members of the group the existing flag represents.
Steve Kramer, 16 Mar 1999

I suppose there will be many more [rainbow variation flags] like the Maryland one at that will to be known or developed and then known.
Steve Stringfellow, 16 Mar 1999

This web page GayJourney.COM has an awful lot of gay flags, which are mostly variations on other flags, including all US states, all Canadian provinces, and many nations. Most of these, with «GJ» underneath, were designed by the site’s author, Greg Gomes. It is hard to say how many of these are flying somewhere.
Richard Knipel, 14 Jun 2004

At GayJourney.COM, lots of rainbows: from Argentina to Wales, EU, UNO, US states, Canadian provinces and general gay flags. Perhaps not all of these flags are actually used in the real word.
Francisco Santos, 14 May 2003

In Amsterdam one can’t help noticing in the Red Light quarter gay and lesbian flags. They are apparently used to give info to potential customers:
     - The rainbow flag with a naked male torso: gay;
     - The rainbow flag with a naked female torso: lesbian.
     - The rainbow flag with a heart on it: leather = SM.
Jarig Bakker, 29 Nov 2000

Some variations in adornment include:
     - pink triangle in the upper hoist, usually point upward
     - pink triangle in a canton of blue or black. Blue is an obvious play off the U.S. flag; black is a color associated with lesbianism - a black triangle on pink is also sometimes used as a lesbian symbol.
     - white stripe vertically in the hoist, to denote that «all are included».
     - a labrys (double-headed axe) is another lesbian symbol and is sometimes included, usually centered on the field
     - a U.S. flag canton
Steve Kramer, 06 May 1996

A pink triangle is sometimes located in the hoist of the Pride Flag.
Don Hagemann, 04 May 1996

During the renovation of Montreal’s (Canada) metro (subway) system in 1999-2000, the access to Beaudry metro, the station serving the gay village, was torn down and replaced with a beautiful new building with the colours of the gay pride flag integrated into it. To my knowledge this is one of the only public buildings in the world so decorated. You can see a picture of it here.
Matt McLauchlin, 11 Dec 2001


Color shade variations on Rainbow Flags

Rainbow with darker bottom stripe
image by Tomislav Todorovic, 27 September 2014

Of course, this flag doesn't exactly have official specifications, but it seems to have become sufficiently common for this variation to be worth noting: The legalising of gay marriage in Spain was reported on The World on BBC4 TV tonight (30 June 2005). There were many shots of people holding the gay pride rainbow flag, but the colours were slightly different to what we show, with a lighter blue for the fifth stripe and a much darker sixth stripe — much closer, in fact, to the "indigo" (as it's called in English) of a real rainbow. However, a gay activist who was interviewed was wearing a badge which showed the colours as we show.
André Coutanche, 30 June 2005

A flag matching this description was seen at the Taiwan Pride in Taipei, on 26 October 2013.
Tomislav Todorovic, 27 September 2014

Rainbow with light and dark blues
image by Tomislav Todorovic, 26 June 2015

Another variant, which also displays a significant variation of color shades, was seen in Mumbai, India, on 16 August 2009. Its photos, which can be found here, here, here, and here reveal that blue and violet are replaced with dark blue (slightly inclining towards indigo) and light blue. Red is also almost indistinguishable from orange - usually, it is the combined size of two stripes, being twice as big as that of any other color, that reveals that two colors are meant to be there.
Tomislav Todorovic, 26 June 2015

Variations on the Number of Stripes

Rainbow with 5 stripes
image by Tomislav Todorovic, 26 June 2015

At least one of these flags, did replace red and orange stripes with a single orange-red stripe, while keeping the unusual order of other colors, as shown here. The reason for this is unclear, since the usual six-striped rainbow flag is not unknown in India, as some of the above sources reveal.
Tomislav Todorovic, 26 June 2015

Variations on the Ratio of Rainbow Flag

Lacking any official specifications, the Gay Pride / Rainbow Flag may have any ratio its users like. The most widespread ones, though, seem to be 2:3 and 3:5, which are among the most widespread ones in general, too. Long "flags" carried by rows of people at LGBT-related events also appear frequently.
A specific ratio worth noting is 1:1, which has been used in Zurich, Switzerland, alone or together with the national and cantonal flags, from which it was clearly borrowed. Most of its photos date from the Zurich Pride / Europride 2009; the best examples can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. These flags might easily be the predecessors of the Swiss gay flags which were seen at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015 in Vienna, Austria.
Tomislav Todorovic, 28 May 2015


Victory over AIDS Flag
(with additional black stripe)

Rainbow triangle Image by Marcus Schmöger, 26 Aug 2001

This is the rainbow flag with an added black stripe to be aware of AIDS called "Victory over AIDS" flag. See for example here and here.
Marcus Schmöger, 26 Aug 2001

Black: AIDS awareness; this stripe will be removed, as soon as a cure is found against AIDS.
Marcus Schmöger, 26 Aug 2001, (translating from EuroGay.net)

The Victory Over AIDS Flag modifies the rainbow flag by adding a black stripe at the bottom. Suggested by a San Francisco group, the black stripe commemorates those we have lost to AIDS. Sergeant Leonard Matlovich, a much-decorated Vietnam Veteran dying of AIDS, proposed that when a cure is eventually found the black stripes should be removed from all the flags and ceremoniously burned in Washington, D.C.
Marcus Schmöger, 26 Aug 2001 (quoting from Jasewells.com)

The flag was used (photo) at Guatemala Pride 2011 (Orgullo Guatemala 2011). Note the unusually light shade of violet color, much lighter than the one used on the "ordinary" gay rainbow flags which can be seen on the same photo.
The same flag was used (photo) at the Guatemala Pride 2010 (Orgullo Guatemala 2010), although on the flag photographed at the event, violet stripe turned out to look almost white, so it probably could not be recognized without the later source.
Tomislav Todorovic, 07 September 2014


Leathermen’s Rainbow Flag
(with black stripe)

Lethaer rainbow flag Image by Marcus Schmöger, 24 Aug 2001

Reportedly, gay leather aficionados might also modify a rainbow flag to have a black stripe instead of a violet one. (However, this version might be confused with the "Victory Over AIDS" version of the rainbow flag, as they are similar.)
Marcus Schmöger, 24 Aug 2001 (quoting from this page)

A variant of the rainbow flag for “leathermen”. The two lower stripes (blue and black) refer to the respective colours of the leather pride flag.
Marcus Schmöger, 24 Aug 2001 (quoting from this page)


Rainbow Flags with white stripe

Rainbow Flags with white stripe at the hoist

Rainbow flag Image by António Martins, 12 Jan 2000

Raibow flag with white stripe vertically in the hoist, to denote that "all are included".
Steve Kramer, 06 May 1996

Stockholm Pride Rainbow Flags with White Stripe at the Fly

   
Images by Tomislav Todorovic, 06 June 2015

A flag used during Stockholm Pride Festival in Stockholm, Sweden, was like the Rainbow flag with red on top but with a white vertical stripe along the fly with the text "STOCKHOLM PRIDE" in sans serif letters of which the word "PRIDE" was in bold letters.
Elias Granqvist, 02 Aug 2004

The flag was also used at the Stockholm Pride 2007, as can be seen here. It was used again at the Stockholm Pride 2010, as shown here, here and here, as well as the Stockholm Pride 2012, as shown here. All these photos reveal that the inscription is purple.
A variant of the flag has the reversed order of colors (purple at the top, red at the bottom) and the inscription in black. It is incompletely visible in a photo at a webpage which has been created as an announcement of the Stockholm Pride / Europride 2008. Even though the colors are obviously too dark for the real life (certainly due to the photographing conditions), all rainbow colors are recognizable, and the inscription is visibly darker of them all, so it can hardly be any color other than black. Regarding the frequency of its appearing in the photos, compared with the other variant, this flag seems to be much less used.
Tomislav Todorovic, 06 June 2015


Rainbow Triangle Flags

Rainbow triangle Image by Marcus Schmöger, 26 Aug 2001

This the rainbow flag with an inserted triangle in the same colours. The (usually pink) triangle is one of the well-known symbols of the gay community. This flag thus combines the rainbow colours with the triangle. See examples here.
Marcus Schmöger, 26 Aug 2001

Rainbow triangle Image by Tomislav Todorovic, 25 July 2013

Another gay flag with the rainbow triangle, but on black field, is offered for sale at several Web shops, like here and here. The flag was photographed in New York, at Gay Pride NYC, on 2006-06-29.
Tomislav Todorovic, 25 July 2013

[Also see five different examples of the Rainbow Flags with pink triangle]


Rainbow Flags with double Mars symbol

Since astronomical/astrological symbol for Mars is used to represent male gender, doubled symbol is often used to represent male homosexuality and is included as such into the Unicode since version 4.1.0 and assigned the code point U+26A3.
Source:
Unicode Consortium website - code chart for Miscellaneous Symbols block in version 4.1.0 (in PDF format)
Tomislav Todorovic, 21 June 2015

Rainbow Flag with double Mars symbol in canton

Image by Tomislav Todorovic, 21 June 2015

Flags with double Mars symbol in white on blue canton were seen in London, UK on 2010-07-03, in New York City on 2011-06-26, in Nottingham, UK on 2010-07-31 and in Belfast, UK on 2013-07-06. On these flags, the individual Mars symbols are conjoined and the canton is much darker than the blue stripe.
Tomislav Todorovic, 21 June 2015

Rainbow flag with double Mars symbol over all

Image by Tomislav Todorovic, 21 June 2015

Flag with large double Mars symbol over all in white, exhibited together with several other sexual orientation flags, can be seen here and here. A photo of the flag, taken in Washington, DC on 2013-03-26, can be found here. On these flags, the individual Mars symbols are interlaced and fimbriated black.
Tomislav Todorovic, 21 June 2015

Rainbow flags with double Venus symbol

Since astronomical/astrological symbol for Venus is used to represent female gender, doubled symbol is often used to represent female homosexuality and is included as such into the Unicode since version 4.1.0 and assigned the code point U+26A2.
Source:
Unicode Consortium website - code chart for Miscellaneous Symbols block in version 4.1.0 (in PDF format)
Tomislav Todorovic, 21 June 2015

Rainbow flag with double Venus symbol in canton

Image by Tomislav Todorovic, 21 June 2015

Flags with double Venus symbol in white on blue canton were seen in Zurich, Switzerland on 2009-06-06, in Santa Fe, New Mexico in February 2010, in London, UK on 2010-07-03 and in Nottingham, UK on 2010-07-31. On these flags, the individual Venus symbols are conjoined and the canton is much darker than the blue stripe.
Tomislav Todorovic, 21 June 2015

Rainbow flag with double Venus symbol over all

Image by Tomislav Todorovic, 21 June 2015

Flag with large double Venus symbol over all in white, exhibited together with several other sexual orientation flags, can be seen here and here. A photo of the flag, taken in Columbus, Ohio on 2014-06-20, can be found here. On these flags, the individual Venus symbols are interlaced and fimbriated black.
Tomislav Todorovic, 21 June 2015


Rainbow Flag with labrys

Rainbow w/ labrys Image by António Martins, 30 Mar 2005 (labrys image from here)

A labrys (double-headed axe) is another lesbian symbol and is sometimes included, usually centered on the field of the rainbow flag.
Steve Kramer, 06 May 1996


Rainbow Flags with globe

Rainbow flag Image by António Martins, 19 Aug 2005

This Gay flag variant of the Rainbow Flag has a circle in the center containing a natural (not map) world globe showing America, Europa and Africa. Source: Communication from José Luís Cepero.
Jaume Ollé, 05 Jun 2000 and 24 Jun 2000

I think by "natural" he means a space-eye photo of earth like on this flag). (Just a guess though.)
David Kendall, 31 Mar 2005

Image by Tomislav Todorovic, 25 Oct 2014

Another variant is charged with the globe on dark blue square canton, which occupies half of the flag width, thus repeating the design of The Authentic Earth Flag (Earth Day Flag),although the relative size of the globe is much larger on the gay flag canton than on the Earth Day Flag, probably in order to make it not too small to be recognizable. The flag was seen at the Atlanta Pride, on 2007-06-24, its photos being available here and here. The canton might look black or almost black on the photos, as very dark blue color may look in the shadow, but the rainbow colors also look darker for the same reason.
Tomislav Todorovic, 25 Oct 2014


Rainbow Flag with smiley

Rainbow flag Image by António Martins, 22 Jul 1999

Chicago held it’s Northalsted Market Days this weekend, the largest of Chicago’s summer street fairs. There were a lot of flags to see. The most prevelent was the gay Rainbow flag in several different varieties (including one with a smiley face on it) and a few other gay flags (since this is the gay mecca of the city).
Steve Stringfellow, 10 Aug 1998


Rainbow Flags with Cowboy Hat

Cowboy hat rainbow flag Image by Marcus Schmöger, 26 Aug 2001

This is the rainbow flag with a cowboy hat for "gay cowboys". This was created by "Cowboy Frank". See CowboyFrank.net.
Marcus Schmöger, 26 Aug 2001

Image by Tomislav Todorovic, 07 Sep 2014

The name of its creator, also known as "Cowboy Frank", is Frank Harrell. The story about the flag creation can be found at his website.
There is another variant, created by the webmaster of a site which was dealing, among other things, with the flags representing different sexual orientations; according to its author, the flag design was approved by Frank Harrell in 2009. In our communication from November 2012, Mr Harrell confirmed me that he did approve the new flag. The designer's motivation was to create a flag which, unlike the original one, could be produced without the screen printing. In order to achieve that, he placed the hat, which kept its usual color (described as "tan"), on a dark brown canton, which symbolizes earth and nature. The band surrounding the hat, not very distinguishable on the original flag, was made much wider and also painted in dark brown, to symbolize cowboys' "perpetual mindfulness of the earth". The original description of the flag can be found at its creator's website (in PDF format).
Tomislav Todorovic, 07 Sep 2014


Rainbow Flag with Heart and Crossed Bones

Pirate rainbow flag Image by Marcus Schmöger, 24 Aug 2001

This is a variant of the rainbow flag with a black heart and black bones (like in the Jolly Roger). Seen at the Christopher Street Day Parade 2001 in Munich; it seemed to me home-made.
Marcus Schmöger, 24 Aug 2001


Rainbow Flags with the Peace Sign

Image by Tomislav Todorovic, 28 May 2015

Rainbow flags are sometimes charged with the peace sign. The simplest of such flags, charged with a white peace sign in center, was photographed in Grand Rapids, Michigan on 2008-01-12.
Tomislav Todorovic, 28 May 2015

Image by Tomislav Todorovic, 28 May 2015

During the weekly anti-Islam protests which have been organized in Dresden from October 2014 to February 2015 by the Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West (Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes, PEGIDA), a rainbow flag with a white peace sign on a purple canton (same shade as the bottom stripe) was seen sometimes, with the word PEGIDA sprayed over it in black - the only detail of the flag that looked hand-made. Whether the flag was made for PEGIDA or had existed before the protests, is not quite clear (the sprayed inscription might suggest the latter - a way to "adopt" the design). Regardless of that, its use was clearly in accordance with the movement's intention to deny the accusations for promoting ultra-rightist extremism and claims that they were opposing Islamic extremism only. The photos of this flag can be found here (image) and here (image).
Tomislav Todorovic, 28 May 2015


Flags with repeated rainbow patterns

Image by Tomislav Todorovic, 14 June 2015

The Rainbow Flags are not limited to displaying a single rainbow patterns - there may be more than one on a single flag. An example with four rainbow patterns has appeared in Toledo, Ohio at the 2012 Toledo Pride Parade. Its photos, taken on 2012-08-10, can be found here and here.
Tomislav Todorovic, 14 June 2015


Flag with two conjoined rainbow patterns

Image by Tomislav Todorovic, 05 May 2015

A variation which displays two rainbow patterns, with red stripes along the top and bottom edges and conjoined by a single violet stripe in center, was seen at Belfast Pride on 2013-07-06. Its photos can be found here (image 1) (image 2) and here.
Tomislav Todorovic, 05 May 2015


Heart/Love Rainbow Flag

Image from Pete Loeser, 24 Aug 2001

Another type of Rainbow Flag is the "Love" or "Heart" Flag. It became popular during the "Same Sex Marriage/Equal Marriage" Movements of the early 2000s.
Pete Loeser, 5 June 2015